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Feeling called to a religious vocation? Visit a monastery


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Philip Kosloski - published on 11/07/21

It is difficult to discern the abstract idea of religious life, as it requires first-hand experience to fully know God's will.

The discernment of God’s will in your life requires much prayer and spiritual direction. It is a process of listening, patiently waiting to hear what God has in store for you.

Typically discernment does not involve a “revelation,” where God speaks to you audibly. Most often it involves a quiet movement in your heart, where you feel God’s peace flood into your soul.

Initially this will require a period of prayer and investigation, looking up various religious communities and seeing which most speak to your heart.

However, at some point this abstract way of discernment must be turned into something concrete, where you physically visit a monastery or convent and stay there for a few days.

This is one of the most important aspects of discerning a religious vocation. A religious community may sound good to you when visiting their website, but upon arrival at their monastery, you realize this is not the life God has marked out for you.

It is something you can only know when you physically visit the community and experience life with them.

This is a natural part of discernment, and each religious community knows that. They are not expecting you to sign up when you arrive at their door. They know that you need to experience life there and listen to the voice of God.

In fact, sometimes it takes more than a week, which is why there is an aspirancy program for every religious order. This gives an individual a full year to discern God’s will. After that year, you are free to go, or profess vows to remain in the community.

Additionally, you may need to visit multiple monasteries or convents, discovering which communities you might feel called to, as well as those communities where you do not feel any peace.

Some dioceses will host trips such as a “Nun Run,” where girls will visit multiple convents over a period of several days. It is a way to see a variety of lifestyles and experience first hand the religious life.

Don’t be afraid to visit a monastery or convent. If you honestly want to know God’s will, you need to visit a community or multiple communities to hear God’s voice speak to your soul.

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